I've come into possession of a bunch of xenon flasher units of the type commonly mounted to burglar alarms and electric gates. I'm aiming to turn them into tiny strobes as part of a project I'm working on; this means increasing their flash rate from their current rate of ~1 flash per second to several flashes per second.
I've sketched out a rough schematic of what I think is going on inside the unit:
From what I understand, as C4 charges, the voltage across sidac Q2 increases to the point at which it opens and allows current to flow to T2, which produces the very high ignition voltage that ionises the gas in the tube and causes C2 to dump its stored energy through the bulb, producing the flash.
I have tried lowering the value of R3 and have found that I can get the flash rate a little faster, but once I get below 800kR it makes no difference. Lowering C4 makes a little difference, but below 47nF the bulb won't flash.
It seems that C2 takes around 0.5s to charge (I can hear it), and possibly this is limiting the number of times I can flash the bulb per second. I am drawing around 0.2A from a 12V bench supply capable of providing 2.5A, so there is more power available to play with.
Interested to know peoples thoughts on how to make it flash faster, and I welcome any corrections to my understanding of how things work - my electronics knowledge is flaky at best. Thanks, Tim.